cortney matz * acoustic christmas
ADVENT is the season before Christmas – the time in which we anticipate a long-awaited day. The word technically means coming, referring to the arrival of Christ on earth, but it is also the first half of one of my favorite words: adventure. The coming of Jesus is the promise of a great adventure, and we have this time to anticipate it before we finally celebrate it. I love the concept of a pre-Christmas season, in which we wait and wonder when.
ADVENT is also an apt description for daily life with Christ – in all our adventures, we know the Messiah has come to save the world, is here with us now as we live our lives on earth, and is coming again soon to reign on earth. So even as we celebrate his first coming, we anticipate his second coming. It’s a paradoxical understanding that the Messiah who met us as a baby is still meeting us as a savior, and will one day make earth and heaven meet for eternity. And that day cannot come soon enough.
It’s my hope that these songs will put words and melodies to your own sense of anticipation – for the Christmas season and for everything you want out of life.
Here’s a sample:
Track 1: Come, Jesus Come
1. Come, Jesus Come
Ancient text and music; additional lyrics by Cortney Matz 2017
My favorite Christmas carol, O Come, O Come Emmanuel sounds like a long wait for a savior – there is something familiar about a songwriter looking at the problems in the world and hoping that eventually someone will come to the rescue. That idea has gone out of vogue in western civilization, but I think it’s still our best option for real healing. The song survives because we are still waiting and hoping for our savior’s return.
By Cortney Matz 2017
In shorthand, Christians sometimes refer to Jesus as a friend who meets us where we are – the beloved hymn, Just As I Am urges everyone to respond to the call of God without any preparation or adjustment of our lives or ourselves. In the same way, God did not make any requirements of earth in order to receive his Son. Jesus simply came to us. And he comes to our hearts still – knocking, as it were, with only the request to be let in.
3. What Child is This?
Greensleeves, English folk song; Words by William Chatterton Dix 1865
The innocence of Christmas is always juxtaposed with the inevitable suffering of the cross, and this song pairs them together beautifully. With all the supernatural wonder surrounding the virgin birth, the ultimate beauty of Christ’s coming is that he redeems humanity with his own life. It’s not as pretty to sing about, but it is the best gift we’ll ever be offered. And the fact that God introduced his kingdom with the birth of a baby and sealed it with his own blood is just so backward to my way of thinking. I love how this song recognizes the power and weirdness of the Word made flesh.
4. Waiting for a Savior (piano medley)
Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming / Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus / Silent Night
Lo: German melody, 1599 / Come: Hyfrydol, by Rowland Prichard 1844 / Silent: Franz Xaver Gruber, 1818
As much as I love words, it is sometimes refreshing to let the instrumentation lead your mind, heart and imagination. And it’s fun to take a break from singing and enjoy simply playing the piano. I recorded this medley three times, and it turned out differently each time – oh well, that’s how I play!
I think these three songs together tell the story of a promise about to bloom, a salvation promised, and a holy night on which God’s son is finally born. In addition to being a cherished memory with my good friend Tessa Day, Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming is a lesser-known, time-tested reflection on the advent of Christ. And the melody is gorgeous. Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus is a hymn from the days when text and music were frequently interchanged, but the bittersweet longing persists. And Silent Night puts us right there in Bethlehem with the young family discovering God’s glory all over again.
5. Not the Most Wonderful Time
by Cortney Matz 2017
I have a habit of ending the year in stressful situations – big projects at work, buying my first house, leading events, moving, not to mention my first LA December when my roommate and coworkers all evacuated the city weeks before Christmas. I love the concept of Christmastime, but man it has led to some really confusing feelings over the years. If the demands of modern life are getting in the way of your Christmas spirit, I hope this helps us all take a deep breath and give ourselves a break. It may not be the most wonderful time – but hang in there, we’ll be fine. Eventually.
6. O, Come
Ancient text and music; translated by Frederick Oakeley 1841
A fitting note to end on. The whole point of Advent is that it culminates in Arrival. Jesus comes. Let’s come together around him.
All lyrics can be found in this blog post.